Coastal Electric Cooperation’s 71st annual meeting combined lighthearted entertainment with the democratic process Thursday at Midway Middle School. The cooperative is a not-for-profit electric distribution company that provides power to about 14,000 residents in Liberty, Bryan, Long and McIntosh counties.
Co-op members filed in past the candidates’ tables and lined up in the school’s gym to register and cast their votes for board members as they would for any city or county elected official.
Once votes were cast, Coastal EC members enjoyed listening to singer and musician David Buskirk perform, ran into a comedic robot that surprised young and old in the school’s halls and listened to WTOC-TV anchor Sonny Dixon as he emceed the event. After the annual meeting, co-op staffers and volunteers provided members with 1,250 take-out lunches prepared by Love’s Seafood.
Board of directors candidates from Liberty, Bryan and McIntosh counties greeted cooperative members, with four candidates in the two contested races asking for members’ votes.
Incumbents John T. Woods III of Liberty County and Laura McGee of Bryan County ran against and defeated Jimmie T. Jones and Christine McDermott, respectively. Barbara A. Davis, who represents McIntosh County, ran uncontested. Davis serves as secretary/treasurer for the board.
“The board sets policies and oversees operations,” Woods said. “We make sure (Coastal EC) runs smoothly which it does.”
McGee was appointed to the board after her predecessor, James Estes of Richmond Hill, died suddenly in February. She now will serve a full three-year term.
“It seemed like it was a good time in my life to take this on,” the Richmond Hill CPA said.
“Everything Coastal EC does is at the board’s request,” Coastal EMC CEO F. Whit Hollowell Jr. said. “They’re fully entrusted to do everything for the membership.” The board sets rates as well as policy, Hollowell said.
The electric cooperative has nine directors on its board with three trustees each representing one of three counties: Bryan, Liberty and McIntosh. Three board seats are up for reelection each year, according to Hollowell. Directors are voted for at-large, according to www.coastalemc.com.
“This is the members exercising their control,” the CEO said. By voting for their board, members can determine what direction the co-op takes, Hollowell said.
He added that there are two ways for candidates to be nominated; one is for the co-op’s nominating committee to nominate qualified members and the second is for potential candidates to acquire 30 member signatures on a petition. Both McDermott and Jones were nominated by petition, Hollowell said.
“(The process) is very much member driven,” he commented.
Coastal EC board election results were not available by press time.
The CEO also said the co-op is in good shape, with assets of more than $80 million, according to Hollowell. Coastal EC is responsible for running about 1,491 miles of line across 573 square miles in its four-county area, according to www.coastalemc.com.